Domaine Henri Delagrange et Fils
In the vineyard with Didier Delagrange–Clos de Chênes, Volnay
A gregarious man of zest and joie de vivre, Didier Delagrange is the 6th generation vintner at the family-owned Domaine Henri Delagrange et Fils, who began working with his parents in 1990, until he took to the reins in 2003. With 15ha under vine across the communes of Volnay, Pommard, Aloxe Corton, Meursault and Haute Cote de Beaune, Delagrange has been with TEW for the past 10 years, and so we were received like family when we visited with Didier to taste his wines and tour through the vineyards.
After tasting, we descended through the village of Volnay to walk through the family’s holdings at “Les Champans”, “Clos de Santenots” (which sits in Meursault but has the right to Volnay) and “Clos des Chênes”, which produces Volnay’s best wines. Speaking of his sustainable farming methods, Didier specified that it’s actually the weather that determines his practice. Working organically when possible, Delagrange closely manages his canopies to ensure that nothing comes in contact with the grapes, not the leaves nor the vines, which allows for a continuous airflow to better enable the healthiest of vines. Hand-harvesting, he also hand-selects the grapes in the vineyard and not on the table, leaving all imperfections behind.
In the tasting room with Jenna, Georgia, Laura, Danielle and KU
In the tasting room, which sits adjoined to the family’s home, we began with Domaine Delagrange Hautes Cotes de Beaune Blanc 2011. Made from their 3ha of 15-year-old Chardonnay vines, this is an elegant wine that’s fresh and pure and made for immediate consumption. With floral minerality on the nose followed by green citrus acidity, the wine sees no oak and is aged for ten months before its released.
Following with Domaine Delagrange Hautes Cotes de Beaune Rouge 2011, which comes from 3ha of SE facing, eight-year-old, hillside Pinot Noir vines, we detected notes of purple flowers, raspberry/cherry fruit and minerality. Fruity, yet elegant and balanced with fresh acidity, this is another wine that’s ready for drinking.
Didier Delagrange on the iron-rich soil of Les Champans
From 1.73ha of 50-year-old Pinot Noir vines, Didier brings us Domaine Delagrange Volnay “Vieilles Vignes” 2010. “Everybody talks about [the vintage] 2009,” he told us as we swirled and sipped, “but in Burgundy we don’t talk too loudly…2010 was a very good harvest.” Aged for 15 months, including 12 in vats, the “Vieilles Vignes” is fresh with integrated notes of red berry fruit, violet flowers, a puff of smoky minerality and a kiss of spice on the structured finish. Like drinking threads of silk, the acidity is balancing and the mouthfeel is seamless.
Moving north and just across the border from Volnay to Pommard, we next tasted Domaine Delagrange Pommard “les Vaumuriens Hauts” 2010; and while we currently have the beatific 2009 vintage in stock, the 2010 will arrive in the fall. Located on the S/SE facing slope, above the premier cru plots, these 40-year-old vines grow on less than 1ha of rocky soil. Bottled just one-month prior to our tasting, the dark cherry/blackberry fruit notes were so fresh that the first sip was akin to a first bite of just-harvested fruit. Rocky, vivacious and floral, “les Vaumuriens Hauts” is silky with tannins that grip as the wine exits the mouth.
The Old Vines of 1er Cru Clos des Chênes
Arriving to our shelves in the fall, the Domaine Henri Delagrange Volnay 1er Cru “Clos des Chênes” 2010 is made from vines that were planted by Didier’s grandfather in 1939. ”This is an historical planting in my family,” said Didier, adding that the vines sit close to the ground so that they can benefit from the ground’s warmth–an adaptation that’s specific to Burgundy. Producing Volnay’s best wines, “Clos des Chênes” totals 15.41ha; 1ha of which is owned by Delagrange. Located upslope, the soils here are so complex that, according to Didier, they change every 40m. With aromas of great minerality, purple flowers and ripe red fruit, the “Clos de Chênes” sees 20% new oak, which yields velvety elegant tannins.
A rare wine, due to the small size (3.54ha total) of “Les Bertins”, the Domaine Henri Delagrange Pommard 1er Cru “Les Bertins” 2010 is fuller-bodied and more powerful than the other wines that were previously tasted. Comprised of scree and Bathonian marl, the mid-slope soil here is at its best and most complex, because of the soil that trickles downslope from the top. Showing notes of dense dark fruit, flint and clayey earth, “Les Bertins” starts elegant and builds power as it ascends the palate. It is most definitely a wine that will further benefit from some time in the cellar.
1er Cru Les Champans
From one of the most well known Volnay premier crus, that was best-listed in 1855, comes Domaine Delagrange Volnay 1er Cru “Les Champans” 2010. Four years ago Didier purchased 14 rows of these 30-year-old vines that are planted in iron-rich soil. Also arriving in the fall (we’ve currently the 2009 in stock) this vintage is like a a ballerina or a velvet glove on an iron fist. Full of elegance and grace with great muscularity and power, “Les Champans” offers violet flowers and roasted chili spice with a velvety viscosity of tannins that are draped upon fresh dark cherry/black berry fruit.
For our last wine, Didier uncorked a treat, Domaine Delagrange Volnay ”Vieilles Vignes” 2006. With an earthy nose of light fungi, forest floor and fall spice, the cherry fruit here ascends the palate, with integrated tannins that are wholly elegant. It’s a beautiful wine with a light spice that lingers long beyond the finish–a good indication of how Didier’s wines might evolve with a few years in the cellar.
The village of Volnay